I came across the following post on Facebook this past Sunday, posted up by a “friend” and while I know this person, I do not know her well. In the non-social media world, she’d be what I’d call an acquaintance. She writes:
“Since tomorrow is Monday, I’m going to start eating healthy again and exercising and try to stop smoking. Tomorrow is a new day, let's hope it goes well for me.”
Oh how that just leapt from the screen at me. I quickly felt my heart sink into my stomach. I felt my jaw clench, adrenaline surge and had an overwhelming sense of sadness and empathy for her.
My heart hurts.
Why? Her words used to be mine. That hanging on feeling to even the slightest shred of hope; hoping to reclaim health, a former weight and fix what’s wrong used to fill my days.
What was also true back then for me, and I’ll venture to say this is true for this woman now, is that hidden behind with the words of hope were deep rooted seeds of defeat and disbelief the dream would ever really come true. What would be different this time?
When I heard these words out of my mouth back then and when I hear them now from clients, often ‘eating healthy and exercising’ really means seeking weight loss and beneath that it means I wanted to be accepted and feel comfortable in my body.
All too common when someone starts eating healthier and exercising, especially kick-starting it off on the all-mighty day of Monday, they may feel better in their body and gain energy and strength within 1-2 weeks, but if the almighty scale doesn’t obey their eating healthy-exercise-calories in-calories out formula they’re putting their body through, then they chalk it up to all being a waste of time.
I say this confidently in this example based on the back and forth comments I read in response to this woman’s post by her other friends. From those, sadly, this will likely be undoubtedly how it goes for her. She’s not alone and this is not uncommon. It is sad and frustrating however.
That’s why I wanted so badly to reach out and shout “STOP, THERE IS A BETTER WAY!” That’s the way you shout on social media right, using all capital letters?
Yet, not knowing her well and how a short comment from me, a person she barely knows, could come off wrong, I chose instead to comment with words of encouragement that she discover the health she craves and suggested she consider implementing a meditation practice into her routine as it can be a doorway to all things healthy, in my humble opinion.
You might wonder what is the better way I wanted to shout at her? Well it begins with throwing out everything you’ve learned about dieting, getting healthy, what exercise produces health and how to love and accept your body (hint: it’s not by saying mean, harsh things to yourself hoping you can berate yourself into loving yourself…never works!).
Toss it all out and intentionally seek to discover a new path to health and creating the quality of life that makes waking up in the morning a joy.
Doing so requires an open mind. A willingness to consider trying a new methods. Self-examining and re-defining what being healthy really means to you specifically. Quit comparing yourself and trying to shape-shift yourself into what your family or society tells you that you ought to be or look like.
Because, let’s get real, if what you’ve tried over and over with diet and exercise hasn’t worked and you’re about to try it again, why? How can you possibly expect different results?
I know that circular insanity train – I was on it for nearly 25 years. I’m so grateful today I’m a new train that’s always heading towards new destinations, each better than the last.
I so much want for anyone who, like this woman, keeps hopping on the circular insanity train to know, it’s not you that keeps failing at getting healthier, it’s the beliefs you hold and the methods you keep trying that are failing you!!
If this resonates with you or someone you care about, perhaps start by being open to trying something NEW? How about approach getting healthy, improving your eating habits and fitness level in a whole new way?
For those still not convinced that it’s not the misleading and outright fraudulent information we’ve all been fed all our lives about dieting and exercising that’s to blame for these repeated failed efforts, consider this:
1. Traditional diets based on calorie restriction or other artificial forms of food deprivation fight your body’s natural biology. FACT: Biology will always win out in the end. So stop fighting biology and learn how to work with it.
2. All experts agree that the long-term success rate of dieting for weight loss is bad; the only dispute is just how bad? Optimists say 80% of those who lose weight on a weight loss diet gain it all back (and typically more) within 1-3 years; less optimistic experts claim 99% regain the some or all of the weight (and more like within 1 year of losing it).
3. It’s becoming more and more apparent that our culture’s obsession with dieting, forced exercise and weight-loss hasn’t made us thin or healthy – it’s actually fueling obesity. There are numerous other causes to the obesity epidemic, but what widely known as fact (yet the food, pharmaceutical and diet industry won’t publicly admit it because society becoming healthy is not profitable), doing more of the same tried-and-failed dieting and exercising won’t improve our health.
Getting back to the main point…do you see why my heart hurts today? This woman’s post is far too common and it’s not just women who feel this way, it’s just that women are more vocal about it. Men struggle most often in silence.
There is real hope however. If you’re wanting to eat better, get more physically fit, improve your health and start to become more comfortable in your own skin – here’s where I’d recommend you begin:
1. Every week, intentionally eat more and more REAL food. Start simple, with real food you actually like and make it 100% achievable to begin with. For instance, replace your morning fruit loops with eggs, ½ an avocado and a slice of toast with real butter. Maybe that’s all you do for a week is focus on choosing real food replacements for your breakfast. Then, the next week, maybe it’s a snack you replace, like the afternoon cookie with a handful of trail mix. Long-term, strive for 80% of all food consumed is real (hint: how do you know if it’s real food, ask yourself, would my great-great-grandmother have eaten it in her day? If the answer is yes, it’s real food; if no, it’s edible, man-made food-like substances).
2. Move your body more in ways you enjoy and do it consistently for 10 minutes per day. Once you’ve built up consistency, increase the amount of time per day and focus on progress, not perfection. I love the advice I was given years ago when I hated going to a personal trainer but believed I “should” go because that’s what healthy people do (if you could see me now, I shake my head and laugh at that ridiculous belief) – I was asked, what is the best ever kind of exercise for any human to do? Eagerly I awaited the golden nugget of wisdom and then it was revealed: the kind you’ll actually do consistently and you do because you feel good when doing it. BOOM!
3. Have a written plan that, at its core, embraces daily structure and routine. This is a hard one for me – it’s strikes my rebellion chord hard and really rubs my willy-nilly, I like freedom to be and do whatever I please whenever I want bone. But time after time when I get off track in my own health and wellness journey – it is ALWAYS because I don’t have a written plan and I’m rebelling against structure and routine. No, it’s not because I’m too busy, I’m too stressed, I just need a break, or whatever rationalized excuse my brain wants to provide me. Nope – I simply need to honestly ask myself, where’s my written plan and where have I intentionally built it into my daily routine?
By instituting these tips into your life, you will be on your way to creating lasting, positive and significant changes in your health and overall quality of life.
And if you’d like to elevate your health and happiness beyond what you can achieve by implementing these valuable tips into your life, consider Eating Behavior Coaching with me or with some other cutting edge mind-body nutrition holistic health professional.
It’s never too late to discover a better way to reach your health goals and improve your quality of life. The first step is to stop doing what you’ve always done and expecting different results.
I'd love to hear from you and what your experience has been with eating better and exercising to improve your health - so please leave me a comment.
If you think someone else can benefit from today's blog, I’d be honored if you would please share it with them.